Originally written by Ryan Hauber, February 13, 2020 on Forbes
When I talk with business owners and high-level executives, one consistent challenge tends to emerge regardless of industry: finding good talent. The term “war for talent” has been tossed around consistently the past few years and shows no signs of subsiding.
Business financials, human resources, inventory and production, changing and emerging technology, and growth strategies are enough to deal with, but add a volatile job market on top, and it’s easy for business owners to feel overwhelmed. As a business goes through natural changes and growing pains, it can be especially difficult to keep up the pace in the financial management areas of the business such as bookkeeping, accounting, and taxes. Naturally, a business owner will want to alleviate some of this burden from their workload.
Whether you’ve reach your maximum capacity, your breaking point or the next step in your business, you now have a choice to make.
Option 1: Hire an Internal Position
At this point, you may make the decision to hire your own accountant, which can be appealing because you have your own person on staff, on-demand to learn your business and handle those tasks from the inside. They can grow with you, and you can closely monitor their work.
On the flip side, hiring an internal position means you’ll need to pay for wages, benefits, vacation, overhead, etc. You or your staff will also need to spend time and energy training the employee.
This option may be right for you if you have concerns over communication or are uncomfortable with the person handling your financials being off-site. However, technology today virtually eliminates these concerns with more secure digital data storage options and several options for virtual communication.
You may also want to choose this option if your business has reached a point where consistent presence in the business is necessary for management of your front office and compliance needs. You will need to add the costs and weigh them against the benefits to determine if this option makes the most sense for your business.
Option 2: Outsource Your Accounting/Bookkeeping
If managing another employee and taking on the overhead costs sounds like more of a challenge than you’re looking for, outsourcing may be a better option for you. If you’re ready for this option, two paths exist. Each business will have different levels of needs for outsourcing, so let’s examine the possibilities.
The first path is outsourcing your accounting/bookkeeping, such as to a certified public accounting, or CPA, firm. This may be a good fit for your business if you are looking for high-level advisory assistance to make decisions as your business grows, and you also want a partner to handle the day-to-day activities. If going this route, you’ll want to make sure you find a firm that connects with your needs and industry.
Outsourcing your bookkeeping function can give you more of your time and energy back and a deep bench of experience right out of the gate. With this option, you also won’t need to worry about staff vacations or unexpected absences.
If your business has a reliable and knowledgeable on-staff accountant who understands your industry and needs, you may not find outsourcing to a CPA firm necessary at the current stage in your business’s lifecycle. If you prefer to keep your financial management in-house with an employee who can grow with your business, outsourcing may not be for you.
Option 3: Talent Outsourcing
Outsourcing high-level projects typically reserved for controllers and CFOs may require a different approach — talent outsourcing. Talent outsourcing physically places a professional in your business to help you gain stability in your business’s finances. A short-term or long-term talent outsourcing engagement may include:
• Cleaning up your bookkeeping and accounting procedures and practices.
• Training your internal finance team or helping you onboard a new CFO or controller.
• Providing continuity in your finances while you search for a permanent replacement.
• Offering financial guidance as your business grows and matures.
Talent outsourcing may be the right option for you if you’re looking for a CPA who can be placed directly in your business for the length of time you need to accomplish your goals, without the costs of salary, benefits and overhead. Once you’re ready, you can then hire a controller or CFO to take over where the talent outsourcing engagement left off.
Investing in talent outsourcing can come with some sticker shock especially for a growing business, but it’s important to remember that the length of any talent outsourcing engagement is dependent on your needs. Additionally, a professional who understands your industry is going to give you the most bang for your buck, so if the match isn’t there, you may struggle with this option.
Which route you choose will depend on your business’s needs, where you stand in your business life cycle and in what areas you feel you need the most assistance. Maybe your solution is a combination of the above with an on-staff bookkeeper and an outsource engagement for high-level advisory services. Regardless of where you stand, a CPA professional can help you analyze your needs and come up with a path that works for you. Armed with the right options, you can win the war for talent in your own way.